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‘He deserves all that success he’s had’: Claude Giroux’s teammates reflect on his career ahead of game No. 1,000

Giroux's ultra-competitiveness has left a lasting impression on current and former teammates like Sean Couturier and Scott Hartnell. Giroux will play his 1000th game on Thursday vs. Nashville.

Flyers Claude Giroux will score here giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the second period of  the Montreal Canadians vs Philadelphia Flyers NHL game at the Wells Fargo Center in Phila., Pa. on Sunday.
Flyers Claude Giroux will score here giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the second period of the Montreal Canadians vs Philadelphia Flyers NHL game at the Wells Fargo Center in Phila., Pa. on Sunday.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

One night in Nashville, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and some of their teammates were out sharing a few “waters,” when Craig “Chief” Berube walked in with one of the strength coaches. Giroux decided to challenge the much bigger Berube to an arm-wrestling competition.

When Berube accepted, the players excitedly cleared the table and gathered around to watch. For a little while, it seemed like an even match. Then, suddenly, Giroux “just hammered him down.” The place went “bananas.”

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Hartnell thinks Giroux, who is notorious for his arm-wrestling skills, was playing with Berube the whole time.

Arm wrestling is just one of many areas that Giroux’s ultra-competitiveness shows itself. While his friends and teammates like to laugh and groan about how he makes everything a competition, Sean Couturier also believes it’s the secret to Giroux’s enduring success.

“It’s one thing to be talented, to be skilled and to have success in this league,” Couturier said. “But to have success for as long as he has, I think it’s his competitiveness and his will to win and be the best that makes him that good for that long.”

Hartnell was there on the ice when the young and exciting Giroux made his debut. He remembers that Giroux looked “14-years-old” but already had that competitiveness and confidence. Hartnell said he was maybe “a little before his time” in that confidence, as well as in his skills, passing ability and hockey sense.

Giroux has matured a lot in his 16-year career, going from a confident kid to a dad with “two beautiful kids” of his own, Ian Laperrière said. But who he is at his core has remained the same. Every single day, he’s brought his all to the ice, and he’s pushed those around him as well. It explains why he’s now the longest tenured captain in Flyers history.

Along the way, Giroux has collected accolades and awards, winning basically everything but a Stanley Cup. Now, in the final year of his contract with the Flyers, Giroux is captaining a team that is nowhere near a playoff spot.

“He deserves all that success he’s had,” Couturier said. “He’s proud. He’s happy of it. But he’s not the kind of guy who really cares that much. He cares more about winning.

“He’s a little bit down, like everyone this year. We haven’t been winning. We haven’t been having the results that we want. He’s no different. He’s not a guy that plays for his stats.”

Following the Flyers’ 30th loss of the season, which came in his 999th career game, Giroux said he’s never been tested so much as a leader as he has been this season. With the Flyers leaving it completely up to him whether he gets traded or stays and re-signs, Giroux has been put in an extremely difficult position.

“I didn’t think I’d be put in a position to make a decision,” Giroux said. “It’s been probably the worst year since I’m here. ... I’m not too sure what to say, to be honest, ‘cause it’s not a position that I want to be in. Obviously there’s still some meetings and some things to talk about with the management and see what the game plan is, not just for this year, but for the future.”

Giroux has been given the choice for a reason. He’s done a lot for the organization, and the Flyers respect that. His friends and teammates will be behind him no matter what he decides.

“We’d be happy for him,” Couturier said. “I mean, especially me, I’ve been around him since I started my career and, you know, to have learned so much from him and the time and the effort he’s putting into this organization. You just wish him all the best.”